Axewound + The Smoking Hearts @ The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – 1 October 2012

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Review by Robert Moody

Nottingham had the privilege on Monday night of hosting the very first show of the very first tour of metal super-group Axewound. Despite only releasing their debut album Vultures that very day, there were still hundreds who came to the venue to see what the new band had to offer.

After playing their opening song, Ben Mills, vocalist of The Smoking Hearts, simply asked the crowd “You don’t know who we are, do you?” And whilst the reaction of those in attendance suggested he was probably right, this didn’t stop the band playing a lively half-hour of good old fashioned rock and roll. The London based quintet won’t be claiming to do anything that hasn’t been done before, but the tracks they played were well executed and very enjoyable, and helped to build the party atmosphere in the venue. To top it off, Ben spent most of the final song in amongst the crowd, and finally climbed onto the balcony at the back of the venue, to bid the audience goodnight from about 15 feet above. It’s safe to say those who saw them now know who The Smoking Hearts are.

Conversely, whilst everyone knew who Axewound were, they couldn’t claim to be familiar with their work, as only a couple of songs had been available before the day of the show. For those unfamiliar with the group, the suggestively named super-group is the brainchild of Bullet For My Valentine frontman Matt Tuck and Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier, with the remaining members recruited from a selection of lesser known British rock and metal bands. For the majority of the crowd who were familiar with one or both of the marquee members bands, what followed wouldn’t have come as a surprise, with the songs sounding exactly like a hybrid of the two. Musically they lean more towards the heavy metal style of Bullet, but with Liam taking responsibility for most of the vocals, the songs take on a more Hardcore style, particularly in the verses. Matt’s contributions were possibly less than expected, with Liam coming across very much as the frontman of this band. One of the big questions surrounding any ‘super-group’ is whether the band will actually play shows with any regularity, but on the basis of the audience reaction, and how much fun they all seemed to be having on stage, it would be no surprise to see them touring again soon. In fact, it all came to an end too quickly, with the set clocking in at under 45 minutes, but as they played the album in full, and included an impressive cover of ‘Fucking Hostile’ by Pantera, they couldn’t have extended the set any further without resorting to covers of their existing bands. Regardless of how successful they prove to be, or how long the project lasts, Axewound definitely left their mark on the audience, and if they do tour again in the future, you can expect most of them to be back.

Setlist: Vultures, Victim Of The System, Exochrist, Burn Alive, Church Of Nothing, Cold, Blood Money, Collide, Destroy, Fucking Hostile, Post Apocalyptic Party